F1 champions Vettel, Hamilton hail France qualifying star Leclerc

Formula 1 world champions Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have hailed Charles Leclerc for his starring French Grand Prix qualifying performance

F1 champions Vettel, Hamilton hail France qualifying star Leclerc

Leclerc made it into the final part of qualifying for the first time in his fledgling F1 career and will start eighth, two places behind the man he could replace at Ferrari next season Kimi Raikkonen.

Four-time champions Hamilton and Vettel have previously tipped Leclerc for great things in F1 and Paul Ricard poleman Hamilton said it was "very, very impressive" to see him make Q3.

"There's a lot of pressure for him, being here in the south of France, so it's really, really good," said Hamilton.

"I'm happy for him, particularly in that car, he's done a great job with what he has - probably even more, which is what you hope from a good driver."

Vettel said he had been alerted to Leclerc's performance by seeing Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur's reaction to it on one of the circuit's big screens during qualifying.

"I saw on the screen that Fred was happy so I knew one of his drivers did well in Q2," he said.

"Eighth is an impressive result, they are still quite a long way behind with the car.

"For him he's doing the job, it's good for him and for Sauber as well to be up there and have chance to score points."

Leclerc is in a rich vein of form having scored points in three of the previous four grands prix.

He called his qualifying result "just unbelievable" and said it was "the best recovery" of his career from one day to the next, having finished more than a second from the top 10 in Friday practice.

"Yesterday was a disaster, the car didn't feel great and I was not driving very well," said Leclerc.

"We changed the car completely today, I felt a lot better.

"I have no words to describe how I feel right now. We all should be proud, the team and I of what we achieved."

Vasseur called it a "huge feeling" for his team to reach Q3 for the first time since the 2015 Austrian GP.

He said Leclerc and team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who made it into Q2 and qualified 15th despite having minimal track time after a fiery practice one crash, had a "huge recovery".

"For Charles it's a special test because it's the first Q3, and P8, and in France," Vasseur told Autosport.

"It's a great feeling for him.

"He did always the big push to get into Q2 and Q2 was not always the best lap of the weekend.

"Today he did a much better job in Q2 than before. He did a fantastic lap in Q2."

shares
comments
French Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton leads all-Mercedes front row

Previous article

French Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton leads all-Mercedes front row

Next article

Max Verstappen F1 downforce gamble not enough on straights in France

Max Verstappen F1 downforce gamble not enough on straights in France
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Sebastian Vettel , Charles Leclerc
Author Scott Mitchell
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Plus

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his team-mate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Plus

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Plus

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Portuguese Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warmup. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
How Hamilton took a “completely different journey” to Portugal victory Plus

How Hamilton took a “completely different journey” to Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The ‘big fish’ mentality that kept an Australian legend winning Plus

The ‘big fish’ mentality that kept an Australian legend winning

Frank Gardner was the veteran of just eight grand prix starts. It could have been more, but why waste his talent if the cars weren't up to it? NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls the life of one of racing's great characters

Formula 1
May 2, 2021
Why Todt’s FIA successor could be cut from the same cloth Plus

Why Todt’s FIA successor could be cut from the same cloth

Jean Todt has signalled that he will not stand for re-election as FIA president. MARK GALLAGHER analyses the strong credentials of one potential successor…

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull and Mercedes uncertain of supremacy at Portimao Plus

The data that leaves both Red Bull and Mercedes uncertain of supremacy at Portimao

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying

Formula 1
Apr 30, 2021